30 for Thirty

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
George Bernard Shaw

I’ve managed to compile a list of 30 traits and life lessons that I’ve come across over the last thirty years, that I wish I knew and applied to my life when I was younger. At first, I considered writing a blog entry that reflected back on every decade of my life as a manner of commemorating my third decade of existence, but I feel as though sharing these traits would seem much more beneficial and universal to all that would read it. As far as the events of my life and my past are concerned, perhaps I’ll save those for a book I’ll write someday. So without further ado, I hope that you not only find this list helpful, but are able to apply the traits that hold meaning to you into the way you live your own life.

  1. Love yourself. I’ve come to learn that if you’re unable to love and care for yourself, then you will never know how to truly love and treat others. It’s like the whole safety rigamarole that they put you through on an airplane: safely secure your (oxygen) mask first, before you help those around you. It won’t only save your life, but is critical in the event that you want to assist those near or next to you.
  2. Love your neighbor as you do yourself. Whether you’re a Christian or not, this characteristic, coupled with the previous trait is a great code to live by that truly benefits everyone. To simply state it: be a considerate human being. Although you may love yourself, never forget that other people have their own interests in mind, as well. I’d like to believe that if people lived by both of these two rules, fewer conflicts would arise today.
  3. Do what you want. Coupled with the first two values, go after your dreams and be the man or woman you want to be in life. If you fail, don’t give up, but at the same time adapt, overcome and set your sights on a different plan or approach. Generally speaking, I like to believe that we’re always where we need to be, so never be afraid to take risks and accomplish your goals.
  4. There’s a difference between being confident and being cocky. Be confident. A confident person has rock-solid faith in their abilities, whereas a cocky person (despite the situation) not only believes in their ability, but also believes that his or her persona, decisions and choices are superior than any others’. This superiority complex, unfortunately, is not only a hindrance to characteristic #2, but also impedes on the autonomy of others.
  5. Give people more than they expect. Depending on the situation, giving people more than they expect can help restore a person’s faith in humanity. It can even move some to tears or even brighten a person’s day, so do it. Even if it’s only for the latter. 
  6. Don’t lose faith. Life has its ups and its downs. As the saying goes: ‘it can’t rain everyday,’ so even if you don’t believe it will let up, continue to persevere on through because at the last possible moment, things will finally let up. Always do your best to remain positive, as you’d be surprised how much of a difference a positive attitude can make.
  7. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Don’t be afraid to say what you feel is right and always keep your word. People may disagree with you, but likewise, there may also be people who agree with you but lack the confidence to speak their mind. Also, if you find that you can no longer keep your word or a promise, at least have the fortitude to inform the person (or persons) you gave your word to. Preferably in a steadfast manner.
  8. Stick up for yourself. Don’t let yourself be a doormat for others to tread on. Just because you desire to be a kind individual, does not automatically make you weak. As Al Capone once said, “Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness. I am kind to everyone, but when someone is unkind to me, weak is not what you are going to remember about me.”
  9. Spend some time alone. Whether it’s on a late night drive, a quiet night at home, or even if it’s at the gym or on a run, take some time to let your mind wander. During this time take a moment to reflect on your past, on your present, on your future, or just utilize this time to rest, recuperate and relax. 
  10. Don’t beat yourself up. You will surely get knocked down more than a few times in this lifetime, so instead of being detrimental to yours own well-being, always choose to pick yourself back up.
  11. A lot of people will come and go from your life. Let them. Don’t chase after people that are willing to leave you behind, as there is a greater number of individuals that want to be a part of your life. Life seems to be a symbiotic relationship between gains and losses. We all die, but we also can create life. Never forget about this cycle, and be grateful for the moments we have with people in the present, because we never know what the future holds.
  12. Don’t believe everything you hear. There are two sides to every coin, so naturally, do your best to stay impartial until you can get a better understanding of what those two sides entail. Everyone has an agenda, so do a little of your own research to figure out what their agenda may be, and what information they may be missing.
  13. Never stop learning. Whether you are content with a high school diploma or GED, or desire to pursue a PhD; Every day is a learning experience.
  14. Don’t neglect your passions. Pursue your passions as they could lead you to a better sense of happiness and potential accomplishment, so long as they are not exclusively materialistic or superficial. 
  15. When apologizing, look the person in the eyes. See #5, #7, #19, #23, and #29.
  16. Take a minute and enjoy the beauty around you.The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, so take the time to appreciate the grass on your own side because I’m sure that you’ll be surprised. We live such fast-paced lives sometimes that we really need to take a minute to breathe and appreciate what’s around us.
  17. Get out and try new things. Even if you spent every minute, of every hour, of every day trying new things you still wouldn’t be able to accomplish most of what this world has to offer. So, why limit yourself? For me, the greatest life experience I’ve had took place during my four years in the Marine Corps. I wouldn’t trade my experiences during those years of my life for the world. “When one door closes, another door opens,” is a popular saying, however; they often fail to mention that sometimes the door that was closed can never be opened again, so be sure to choose your paths wisely. Don’t be reckless, but don’t let yourself be controlled by fear or anxiety, either.
  18. Be yourself. Don’t succumb to peer pressure. If you have to impress others in order for them to notice you, they’re not worth your time. True friends are attracted to you for just being who you are. Flaws, perfections, and everything else in between.
  19. Always take responsibility for your actions. Build yourself up to be a reliable and responsible adult by taking responsibility for your own mistakes. By building this type of integrity for yourself, you can advertise yourself as more trustworthy, just, and reliable. These attributes also help to show others how unselfish you can be, as well as your desire to be a team player.
  20. Don’t judge people by their relatives. They may share a similar genetic make up, but they are not replicas or mirror images of one another. A person’s individual (controllable) actions will tell you more about them than the actions of their relatives.
  21. Learn how to listen. The same way that people develop sports skills, artistry skills, and cooking skills, is the same type of diligence necessary in order to develop their listening skills. If you spend your time thinking about your response, what a person is saying, or completely spacing out and thinking about your favorite desserts, all while a person is talking to you, hinders your ability to truly listen. During your next conversation try to devote some time to listening to someone. Like any task, it will be draining at first, but the more time you devote to it the easier it will become and the more you will benefit in the long run.
  22. Surround yourself with people that make you happy. And vice-versa. There are people in this world that will drain you of your energy, but likewise, there are also people that will help to rejuvenate you. Keep people that do the latter in an abundance in your life, but also hand-select a few people that drain you, as they could very-well need your positive energy. Besides, if you have an abundance of friends that help to rejuvenate you, a few people that drain you will never be a hindrance to you.
  23. Never do anything half-assed. You reap what you sow, so if you want some outstanding results, put in a great deal of effort. The results are almost always a direct representation of the hard work applied.
  24. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson. You can learn a lot from your mistakes and even through the mistakes of others. Never forget where you went wrong, and what you can do in order to prevent yourself from repeating the same mistakes again. If you fail to learn the lesson, you’ll only be doomed to experience the same mishaps again in the future.
  25. Always remember that great achievements and great love require great risk. Similar to what was said in #23, you reap what you sow. Learn to take calculated risks, but if you fall, learn from your mistakes, pick yourself up, and grow from them.
  26. Volunteer. Do something kind for others that doesn’t benefit you in the slightest way possible. Your time may be valuable, but you’d be surprised how much more valuable it is to those less fortunate than yourself.
  27. Smile and/or laugh, everyday. You might not think it’s much, but it is. Try it and you’ll see.
  28. Remember that the things that matter most in life, aren’t things. In a society that seems to put a lot of emphasis on material goods, never lose sight of the fact that its the bonds, relationships and the memories we make together that holds the true values of life.
  29. Don’t always do what’s easy, just because it’s easy. We learn a lot about ourselves during times of hardships and tribulations. Likewise, it is during these rough patches that we learn who stands by our side and who we can come to rely on. Doing what’s difficult helps you to develop and utilize your individual sense of courage, confidence, judgement, critical thinking, and a long list of other fine characteristics that you wouldn’t be able to acquire should you only choose to do what’s easy.
  30. Never give up. This is your life, so fight for the relationships, the goals, the paths, and whatever you set your sights on. Lastly, I leave you with the motivating words of Laurie Notaro: “if you really believe in what you’re doing, work hard, take nothing personally and if something blocks one route, find another.